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Baby Back Chili & Cornbread | Recipeish | Gustus Vitae

  • Yield: This is for a crowd - serves 15-20
  • Time Estimate: Days
  • Storage Notes: Chili will keep in an airtight container for up to 7 days, cornbread is best day-of
  • Difficulty: Medium, mostly because it's a whole thing.

Chili isn't something that we have on the regular, but it's one of those cold-weather comfort foods that, when we do make it, we try to make it right. This recipe features baby back pork ribs - a long, slow sous vide bath makes them super sweet and releases a bunch of collagen, acting as a natural binder to bring everything together. Add to that some homey cornbread and you've got yourself a deeply gratifying supper for a crowd that hits all the right notes: savory, spicy, piquant, and deeply satisfying; it's the food equivalent of kicking off your shoes on Friday night and stretching out after a good long week.


For The Ribs

  • 2 baby back pork rib racks - around 10-11 pounds
  • 1 cup dry red beans
  • 2 large white onions
  • 6-7 large carrots
  • 2 large celery hearts
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 tin Sweet & Spicy Kentucky Kick
  • 1 tin Smoky Lonestar Spice
  • 4 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 cups low sodium beef stock
  • Bonus Points: some chives, jalapeños, and/or sour cream
For The Cornbread
  • 2 cups corn meal
  • 2 cups plain/all purpose flour
  • 8 tbs baking soda
  • 2 tbs California Sea Salt
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stick butter to rub against pan


    • This is a 2 day make in advance deal, so know that going starting off.
    • Take your two racks of ribs, flip over, and remove the membrane.
    • Season fully with a whole tin of Sweet & Spicy Kentucky Kick, rubbing in.
    • Vacuum seal, and pop in a sous vide bath at 185F. These guys are bring to be in there for 18 hours, so we recommend starting this the afternoon of the day before you want them for supper.
    • In a colander, thoroughly rinse beans. Pour into a bowl, and add 2 cups distilled water, and leave overnight.
    • Fast forward to the next late afternoon >>>>>>>
    • Break out your Emile Henry one pot or slow cooker, and set to low.
    • Remove ribs from sous vide - they're gonna be hot, so allow 15 minutes or so to cool down.
    • Peel carrots, and dice finely. Same with celery hearts and onion, then mince garlic, and add everything, along with a whole tin of Smoky Lonestar, to the slow cooker with the vegetable oil.
    • Strain beans, and rinse. In a medium pot, combine beans and beef stock, and simmer, around 15 minutes, until most liquid is evaporated and beans are tender. Add to one pot or slow cooker.
    • With ribs now warm but not scorching, flip round side down/rib side up. Lift and remove ribs - they should come out largely clean. Discard ribs or reserve later to make a stock or tontaksu base.
    • Rough chop ribs, and add to one pot or slow cooker. Cover, set to low, and let it do it's thing.
    • In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sea salt, and baking soda. Whisking as you do, add in milk and vegetable oil. Preheat oven to 380F, and mix well until fully combined.
    • Rub a tall lipped baking pan with butter, and spoon in cornbread mixture.
    • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpicks comes out clean.
    • Remove from oven, and cut into manageable chunks.
    • Give everything in the slow cooker a good stir, and begin ladling out. Serve with corn bread, and accent with what you have on hand - some sour cream, chives, jalapeño, or shredded jack cheese are all lovely accents.
    • Serve in small but mighty bowls with cornbread, and devour.